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Small businesses should benefit from Knysna building boom‚ says MEC

By Aphiwe Deklerk | 2017-06-19 08:15:05.0

The fires in Knysna and surrounding areas have destroyed many people's homes. Here are some of the homes and a school hostel before the fires struck and what was left in their wake. Source: The Herald

Western Cape finance MEC Alan Winde wants residents of the Southern Cape to cash in on the coming construction boom following the devastating fires that destroyed dozens of homes.

Winde said a total of 2 500 jobs have been lost due to the fires‚ which also hit the accommodation industry hard.

Winde said the province’s Red Tape Reduction Unit‚ which falls under his department‚ should work with the municipality to ensure that building plans were fast-tracked.

He said the government needed to ensure that workers who had lost their jobs were re-skilled to be able to meet demand.

Reconstruction of Knysna might be my silver lining‚ says builder who lost everything in fire

“Obviously there is going to be a bit of a building boom. You’ve got your ordinary economic growth but you need to add onto that another 500 to 600 homes‚ from small‚ informal to some of those massive‚ big ones in Plett‚ that burnt down‚” said Winde.

“That region is going to have a lot of building happening‚ then there are jobs that come with it and business that can actually provide help‚ from plumbing to building to carpentry.”

Winde said local businesses also needed to benefit.

“I don’t want the big three or big five construction guys to get all the work. We need to make sure that smaller guys get the work‚ so that we end up having the smaller guys becoming bigger in this process‚” he said.

Winde said municipalities also needed to look at waiving planning costs for residents who were rebuilding and to ensure that the process was made easier.

“[I don’t want] people claiming on the insurance‚ taking their money and moving out of town. I need that money to stay in town‚” he added.

Winde said‚ aside from the lost homes‚ things were starting to normalise in Knysna.

On Saturday‚ the Western Cape Department of Health reopened the Knysna hospital‚ which was closed down in the wake of the fires.

Patients had to be transferred out of the facility but from Saturday the hospital started accepting emergency patients.

Around 80 patients were moved from the hospital.